Weekend Box Office: Outta Compton and Straight to Number One

If the summer box office is winding down, no one bothered to tell Universal Pictures. Continuing a winning streak like no other the studios latest offering –Straight Outta Compton– opened to huge numbers this weekend. The news wasn’t as good for Warner’s pricey The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which opened to weak numbers in third place behind Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

There was no doubt that Straight Outta Compton would open at number one this weekend. After all, N.W.A’s music has remained popular –and relevant- for nearly three decades. Former band member Ice Cube has gone on to become a successful box office draw while another, Dr. Dre, has continued to excel as a record producer (he also released his first album in nearly a decade and a half this past week). The awareness was there, but the question remained just how big the film would open and more importantly, would it be able to appeal to audiences that might not be familiar with the band or their music.

Thanks to a superb marketing campaign and strong reviews, the answer to those questions was a resounding “yes”. The $29 million production exceeded even the most optimistic of forecasts and even managed to break a few records along the way. The $56.1 million earned from 2,757 theaters this weekend was one of the top ten openings of all time for an R-rated feature. It was also a best-ever opening for a musical drama, eclipsing the $51.2 million earned by fellow Universal Pictures release 8 Mile back in the fall of 2002.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Compton’s viewing crowd was 46% African-American, 21% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic, 4% Asian and 6% others (Five-O, perhaps?). 51% of the audience was over the age of thirty and 49% under while women accounted for 52% of the audience while 48% was male.

Critics and ticket buyers seemed to be on the same page for Compton with the former giving it an 88% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the latter bestowing the movie with an “A” on CinemaScore. With zero competition and solid word-of-mouth beginning to make the rounds, Straight Outta Compton should continue to be a major draw over the next few weeks.

Spies with their origins in 1960s television occupied the next two spots. Paramount’s blockbuster Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation kept cruising along in second place where the espionage hit eased only 40% from last weekend to earn an estimated $17 million from 3,700 theaters. To date, the Tom Cruise flick has earned a solid $138 million domestically and an additional $235.3 million from foreign markets. A final North American haul near $180 million is likely with a global tally aiming past $700 million.

The film expected to take some of the wind out of Rogue Nation’s sails –the Warner spy thriller The Man From U.N.C.L.E.– proved to be no threat at all as it limped into third place with an estimated $13.5 million from 3,638 theaters. The $75 million production had been in development for quite some time, passing through the hands of filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh and stars such as Tom Cruise and George Clooney before winding up with director Guy Ritchie and stars Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. Ex Machina’s Alicia Vikander and Elizabeth Debicki co-star.

Reviews were largely on the positive side for the theatrical take on the classic 1960s television series. Critics gave U.N.C.L.E. a 67% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, ticket buyers were a little less kind. They gave the film a “B” rating on CinemaScore. The soft opening may be contributed to a rather uninspiring ad campaign and some very unfortunate timing. Not only was the film’s exposure obscured by the behemoth known as Straight Outta Compton, it also opened while Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is still in the market making big bucks. Warner may have been wise to have moved U.N.C.L.E. to a less competitive time once Paramount had announced plans to move Rogue Nation from Christmas Day to July 31st a few months ago.

One film that would have been a dud no matter what time of the year it was released is Fox’s disaster Fantastic Four. After opening to dismal numbers and the worst reviews for a superhero feature in recent memory, the $122 million production took a 69% dive in its second weekend to earn a terrible $8 million from 4,004 screens. After ten days, the film has earned $42 million stateside and an additional $60 million from overseas. If they’re lucky, The Thing and his pals may make it to the $55 million mark by the end of their domestic run.

Word of mouth helped provide a solid fifth place hold for STX Entertainment’s The Gift, which earned an estimated $6.5 million from 2,503 theaters. Off 45%, the Joel Edgerton feature has earned $23.5 million so far and could finish with approximately $35-40 million, seven to eight times its production budget of $5 million.

Just outside the top five:

  1. Ant-Man (Disney) $5.5 million (-30%); $157.5 million
  1. Vacation (Warner) $5.3 million (-40%); $47 million
  1. Minions (Universal) $5.1 million (-31%); $313 million
  1. Ricki and the Flash (Sony) $4.5 million (-31%); $14.6 million
  1. Trainwreck (Universal) $3.8 million (-38%); $98 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of American Ultra, Hitman: Agent 47 and Sinister 2. Straight Outta Compton should have no problem holding on to the number one spot while joining Trainwreck as Universal’s latest 2015 releases to cross the $100 million mark.

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